How to Enroll In the Right CMA Training Program near Glendale Arizona
Once you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Glendale AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is ensure that the Glendale AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Glendale AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Glendale AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Glendale AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Glendale AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must examine when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Glendale AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Arizona colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Glendale AZ area health care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Glendale healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Glendale AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Glendale AZ, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Glendale AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Glendale AZ.